A beacon of hope for retailers

  • TECH
  • Tuesday, 29 Apr 2014

COMING AROUND: Consumers are warming to iBeacon retail technology.

Consumers are warming to the idea of messages and offers being pushed to their smartphones when they're out shopping. 

Almost half — 45% — of UK consumers polled by eDigitalResearch said that they'd be very willing or somewhat willing to receive offers and info from retailers on their handsets — especially if the messages were for special offers, vouchers or other types of discount. 

In all, 1,300 consumers were polled and one third said that they believed that suitably personalised messaging would influence their purchasing decision. What's more, of those who would be happy to receive messages, 78% are not concerned about sharing data if it meant tailored offers or better recommendations. 

The smartphone is already beginning to play an active role in both online and real-world retail and in some areas, such as ticketing, is already carving out a growing niche. 

According to ABI Research, over 34 billion tickets for sports events, concerts and movie screenings will be sent to handsets rather than physical mailboxes over the next five years, and the reason that it's catching on is because it's simple and doesn't require a handset with specific specifications or features. 

A QR code displayed on the screen and scanned by an usher or machine, a simple text message, a Near Field Communication connection or a Bluetooth link can all be used and all are. There is no need for a standard. 

However, offering pertinent location-based messaging and mobile services is not so simple and does require a platform, and it is beginning to look that in the form of Apple's iBeacon technology, one is beginning to develop. 

Derek Eccleston, Commercial Director at eDigitalResearch, comments, "Apple subtly introduced iBeacon technology into the market at the end of 2013. As retailers and brands get to grips with what it is and how it works, consumer opinion demonstrates that it could potentially revolutionise the in-store and high street shopping experience. 

"We found last year that half (50%) of smartphone owners regularly shop through retail apps and have them installed on their mobiles. It opens up the potential for retailers to digitally reach outside their stores and tempt smartphone owners in...." 

Since its launch, a host of US retailers including Macy's have been testing iBeacon to offer customers store-specific discounts while 20 of the country's 30 Major League Baseball teams have also installed the technology at their stadia as a way of increasing interaction with fans. 

So, for example, iPhone-owning Dodgers fans with the right apps installed and with Bluetooth activated will be able to enter the stadium before a game and be automatically checked in (no need to present a ticket), access maps and menus for concessions stands and watch video clips, all on their phones. 

However, it's still early — yet clearly exciting — days for the technology and it could be a way of tying online and high street retail together as well as offering consumers a truly personalised shopping experience. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2014 

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